Indo-Pacific : News & Discussion


Rain Man
Dec 1, 2017
India and Japan commit to Indo-Pacific strategy

UPDATED: MARCH 29, 2018 22:18 IST


Countries exchange loan agreements worth $1.4 billion

India is Japan’s “most important” partner in its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” said Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, as both countries agreed to step up cooperation in their “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” during annual consultations and exchanged yen loan agreements for $1.4 billion.

“Our Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and India’s Act East Policy should be further merged,” said Mr. Kono, in remarks that appeared to target China’s actions in the South China Sea.

“Our growing convergence on economic and strategic issues is important for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Kono discussed a wide range of bilateral issues during the 9th India-Japan Strategic dialogue in Tokyo, while setting the agenda for the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan for the annual summit with PM Shinzo Abe.

They also witnessed the exchange of documents for loans from Japan to India for projects including the Mumbai metro line from Cuffe Parade, a sea water desalinisation plant and a intelligent transport system to reduce traffic congestion in Chennai, tree-planting schemes in Himachal Pradesh as well as loans for the North East connectivity project.

India and Japan commit to Indo-Pacific strategy
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Dec 2, 2017
United States
APRIL 23, 2018



Two weeks ago, Australians were startled by media reports that China intended to establish a military base in Vanuatu. This small island nation sits less than 1,500 miles from Australia’s northeastern coast in an area of the Pacific long thought free from great power rivalry. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded to the news unambiguously, declaring that his country “would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific Island countries and neighbors of ours.” Just as it was a surprise for Australia to hear that the People’s Liberation Army was exploring military facilities in its strategic backyard, it was a surprise for India to learn about potential Chinese bases in Pakistan and it was a surprise for the United States to find Chinese companies offering to build casinoson the exact locations in Micronesia where the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps had been planning new facilities as part of the Pentagon’s rebalance strategy to the Asia-Pacific. Having broken Xi Jinping’s promise not to militarize Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea and then gotten away with it, Beijing now appears poised to establish a string of bases and dual-use ports from Hainan to Djibouti. It is not too late for the maritime democracies of the “Quad” (the United States, Japan, India, and Australia) to act. First, however, they must recognize what is at stake.

China’s military penetration into the South Pacific would challenge one of the oldest and most fundamental tenets of Australian strategic doctrine, the exclusion of outside military powers from its island approaches. The federation of the Australian colonies in 1901 was motivated by “fear, national sentiment and self-interest,” as put by leading federalist Sir Robert Garran. For three decades prior to federation, Australians had watched nervously as the leading colonial empires moved to annex the remaining territories in Oceania and the Western Pacific. In 1883, the colonial Queensland government sought to annex the portion of Papua New Guinea that was not Dutch territory in order to forestall a feared German land grab. In May 1918, with World War I still raging in Europe (and almost exactly 100 years before Turnbull’s declaration), Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes visited the United States and proclaimed “an Australasian Monroe Doctrine” in the South Pacific. Hughes said

[T]he position of Australia is such that it is essential to its territorial integrity that it should either control these islands itself or that they should be in the hands of friendly and civilized nations. … To allow another nation to control them would be to allow it to control Australia.​
Hughes pursued this doctrine trenchantly at the subsequent Paris peace conference, insisting that Australia retain control over New Guinea and clashing with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (who wanted former German colonies placed under League of Nations trusteeship). During World War II, Australian and American forces fought to uphold it at the Battle of the Coral Sea, at Kokoda, and in the subsequent campaign to push Japanese forces out of New Guinea. The echoes of Hughes’ declaration reverberate to the present. Australia’s current Defence White Paper states:

Australia cannot be secure if our immediate neighborhood … becomes a source of threat to Australia. This includes the threat of a foreign military power seeking influence in ways that could challenge the security of our maritime approaches.​
The Vanuatu government has denied discussions are under way with Beijing about establishing a military base, but China’s activities in the country fit a broader picture. The Chinese government provided a $54 million concessional loan for a Chinese company to build a 360-meter wharf at Luganville. The wharf is ostensibly to accommodate visiting cruise liners, but at some point in the future — under a different Vanuatu government — it could support large naval vessels. Commercial satellite imagery, provided by the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe, suggests there is room to expand the existing facility.

The same is true of Vanuatu’s main airfield, where the government of Vanuatu signed a contract with the Chinese state-owned enterprise, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, to expand Bauerfield International Airport, the main aviation gateway to Vanuatu. This airport has been in desperate need of rehabilitation, with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation contracted to lengthen and widen the runway to handle long-haul commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 (but potentially also large military aircraft). Already Vanuatu’s external debt amounts to approximately one third of its GDP, with around half of that owed to China – giving Beijing economic leverage and risking future debt entrapment. This is the fate that recently befell Sri Lanka when it lost control of the port of Hambantota to Chinese government-controlled interests as a result of inability to service debts. Hambantota is strategically located to support not only Chinese trade but increasing deployments of Chinese naval vessels in the Indian Ocean. In a nice piece of historical irony, Sri Lanka was compelled to grant a 99-year lease to China, evocative of the 99-year lease China was forced to give the British Empire for Hong Kong in the 19th century.

One of the hallmarks of Xi’s high-profile Maritime Silk Road initiative is the development of extensive maritime infrastructure in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and around the Indian Ocean littoral. This network of facilities has a genuine commercial dimension in supporting China’s large merchant fleet, as Beijing seeks to build a web of economic connections linking China with Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. But much of it could also be used to support increasing power-projection operations in the region by the People’s Liberation Army-Navy. The United States and its regional allies and partners need to pay attention and develop a more coherent and effective response.

Chinese military forces are consolidating their formidable access denial capabilities in their “near seas,” within the first island chain from Japan through the Philippines to Malacca and the other vital maritime chokepoints between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As this happens, China is investing more in the long-range power projection capabilities needed for what the People’s Liberation Army calls “open seas protection.” This includes surface combatants and support vessels, nuclear-powered attack submarines, and aircraft carriers. China already has almost 100 vessels capable of deploying well into the Indian Ocean. There is no sign its naval shipbuilding program is about to slow down.

Supporting those far-flung deployments will require a network of facilities, and China is well on its way to building this network. Beijing’s efforts on this front are at their most advanced in Djibouti, where China has established its first formal overseas military base — conspicuously adjacent to the U.S. military facility that supports operations in the Horn of Africa. There is strong evidence that the People’s Liberation Army is violating its status of forces agreement with Djibouti by conducting live fire exerciseson the base. Moreover, neighboring U.S., Japanese, and other bases depend on infrastructure currently operated by Dubai World Ports, but there are rumors in the market that Chinese firms are preparing to buy these commercial concessions. In addition to Djibouti in East Africa and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, China is constructing major port facilities at Gwadar in Pakistan, has a substantial stake in the deep water Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar, and is seeking to negotiate access agreements around the region.


The facilities at Hambantota, Gwadar, and Kyaukpyu are not yet being used by the People’s Liberation Army. But Beijing’s militarization of its man-made South China Sea facilities — including, most recently, the deployment of radar jamming equipment, as well as the sudden prospect of a base in Vanuatu — demonstrate how quickly dual-use infrastructure could be turned to military logistical support. The vulnerability of countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Vanuatu to Chinese debt traps associated with these infrastructure projects was recently highlighted by International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde and suggests how easily Beijing might tighten the financial screws to obtain strategic access.

To be clear, China has legitimate interests in sea-lane security, counter-piracy operations, and non-combatant evacuation operations that would require logistical support. Nor would a string of Chinese military bases pose a major problem for the United States and its allies in the event of a major regional conflict. Chinese vessels operating nearer to its coastline enjoy the protection of land-based airpower, but the People’s Liberation Army-Navy is operating on exterior lines in the Indian Ocean and will continue to lack adequate organic air power for some time to come.

In situations short of military conflict, however, China will be able to exploit the network of military and dual-use facilities it is establishing to support an enhanced military presence and shape the Indo-Pacific maritime security environment in ways that are deleterious to U.S. and allied interests. It will be better positioned to collect intelligence and to influence — and potentially coerce — host governments. It could also gain the ability to block or complicate U.S. military access in a crisis and to severely disrupt the logistics that are vital to American power projection. The result would be to reduce Washington’s capacity to deter threats and reassure allies, and hence to maintain regional stability.

China’s activities in Djibouti merit particular scrutiny in this regard, since a more significant Chinese military presence there would complicate the ability of the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet to swing across the Indian Ocean in support of U.S. Pacific Command in a contingency in the Western Pacific. U.S. access to the strategically located base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean could also come under jeopardy. The United States leases the facility from the United Kingdom, which recently extended the lease to 2036. But British possession of the territory is contested by Mauritius, and Chinese influence operations could seek to exploit pressure for “decolonization.” The return of Diego Garcia to Mauritius may resonate with someone like Jeremy Corbyn at the helm at 10 Downing Street.

Beijing may not yet be positioned to dominate the Indian Ocean or South Pacific, but a strategy of denial backed by infrastructure spending, debt traps, and expanded Chinese naval and air force presence would be enormously advantageous to its strategy of control over the first island chain and the East and South China Seas.

Whilst China’s maritime infrastructure play across the Indo-Pacific could present a major challenge to American and allied interests in the region, this is far from a foregone conclusion. The United States continues to enjoy what Secretary of State Dean Acheson called “situations of strength” in the Indo-Pacific and can join with allies and partners to build on these strengths. Turnbull’s firm stand against a permanent Chinese military presence in the South Pacific shows the way. The return of the Quad security dialogue in 2017, after a ten-year hiatus, presents a useful framework to begin pushing back against any Chinese efforts at coercive or subversive establishment of military infrastructure across the Indo-Pacific. Together, these maritime democracies can take the lead with seven lines of effort:

First, they should spotlight and push back against Chinese military facility construction that is aimed at disrupting longstanding allied and partner access arrangements in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. Parallel to this, these four countries can offer expanded support for civil society-building, transparency, and accountability in littoral states participating in China’s Maritime Silk Road to ensure greater attention to anti-corruption, labor and the environment.

Second, members of the Quad should develop a more attractive alternative to the Maritime Silk Road through the Asia Development Bank, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other institutions committed to quality infrastructure projects that have better economic impact and lower life-cycle costs.

Third, it is important to continue U.S., Australian, Japanese, and New Zealand diplomatic and economic support for South Pacific states. The U.S. Congress and the Trump administration recently took a positive step in this direction by providing $124 million towards funding the Palau Compact Agreement in the 2017 defense bill. Under the 2010 agreement, the United States commits to providing financial assistance to Palau until 2024, in return for which U.S. Pacific Command continues to enjoy unchallenged access to the archipelago’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Fourth, it is time to step up Quad-centered maritime presence and military capability-building in the Indian Ocean. Two cost-effective ways to do this would be to increase interoperability through an expanded Malabar exercise series and to establish a rotational presence of U.S. surface combatant vessels at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia (and consider the possibility of investing in the nuclear support infrastructure necessary for basing of attack submarines as well).

Fifth, the United States, Japan, and Australia should work with India to build greater maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean, including by building up and networking the capacity of littoral countries.

Sixth, members of the Quad should establish a combined joint task force for low-intensity operations such as counter-piracy and humanitarian and disaster relief for the Indo-Pacific that would be inclusive of all regional navies and would establish clearer norms and communication with the People’s Liberation Army-Navy and Chinese Coast Guard.

Finally, it is important that all members of the Quad encourage Beijing to make the Belt and Road Initiative and the Maritime Silk Road converge with established international practices designed to ensure transparency and accountability. Pressure from Australia and other members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank established by China helped to move the new institution closer to the norms associated with the World Bank and Asia Development Bank.

These steps will be important if the United States and other maritime allies and partners want to avoid a situation where Beijing suddenly flips a switch to turn its string of infrastructure projects into a new military reality that upturns longstanding assumptions about the Indo-Pacific region remaining free and open.

Michael J. Green is Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic & International Studies and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University. Andrew Shearer is Senior Adviser on Asia Pacific Security and Director of the Alliances and American Leadership Project at CSIS.

Image: Phillip Capper/Wikimedia Commons
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Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
The US and Japan must actively militarize much more than they are now. The USN should be allowed to become a 350-ship navy and the Japanese require massive constitutional reforms. The Japanese in particular can no longer stay pacifist.
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Dec 2, 2017
United States
The US and Japan must actively militarize much more than they are now. The USN should be allowed to become a 350-ship navy and the Japanese require massive constitutional reforms. The Japanese in particular can no longer stay pacifist.
Japan is trying to make the constitutional changes but the direction they are going the ruling party might not last long. And the opposition is pro-Chinese marketing themselves against changing their defensive posture.
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Senior member
Dec 4, 2017
The only way to do it is SDI. Having seen the proliferation of nukes and missile technology, restarting Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative proper is the only way forward.


Dec 5, 2017
Pentagon salutes US-India ties by renaming Pacific Command to 'Indo-US Pacific Command'
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Source Link: CLICK HERE

The US military on Wednesday renamed its Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move underscoring the growing importance of India to the Pentagon, US officials said.

US Pacific Command, which is responsible for all US military activity in the greater Pacific region, has about 375,000 civilian and military personnel assigned to its area of responsibility, which includes India.

"Relationships with our Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability," US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in prepared remarks.

"In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command," Mattis said.

He was speaking during a change of command ceremony. Admiral Philip Davidson was assuming leadership of the command from Admiral Harry Harris, who is President Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to South Korea.

The renaming does not mean additional assets will be sent to the region at this time, but rather recognises India's increasing military relevance for the United States.

In 2016, the United States and India signed an agreement governing the use of each other's land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defence ties as they seek to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China.

The United States is also keen to tap into India's large defence market. It has emerged as India's No. 2 weapons supplier, closing $15 billion worth of deals over the last decade.

Mattis has been pushing for a waiver for countries like India, after Trump signed a law last year which said that any country trading with Russia's defence and intelligence sectors would face sanctions.

"I think India and the relationship with the United States is the potentially most historic opportunity we have in the 21st-century and I intend to pursue that quite rigorously," Davidson, the incoming head of the command, said last month.

However, experts said the name change would mean little unless it was tied to a broader strategy.

"Renaming PACOM is ultimately a symbolic act ... (it) will have a very limited impact unless the US follows through with a significant array of initiatives and investments that reflect a wider aperture," said Abraham Denmark, a former deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia under President Barack Obama.

Pentagon salutes US-India ties by renaming Pacific Command to 'Indo-US Pacific Command'
So, all that dilly dallying is now off, its open proclamation, that China is the target. ;)(y)
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Dec 3, 2017
Undersea deterrence and strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific
Amid rapid geopolitical change at the start of the 2020s, unfolding now in the Covid-19 crisis, nuclear weapons manifest grim continuity with the previous century. Especially persistent is a capability that has existed since the 1960s: the deployment of nuclear weapons on submarines. The ungainly acronym SSBN represents nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines: the most destructive armaments carried on a supposedly undetectable, and thus invulnerable, platform. Over several articles, this series will illuminate new technologies and potential risks relating to undersea warfare and nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pacific over a 20-year timeframe.

The various undersea nuclear deterrence programs in the Indo-Pacific region can’t be considered in isolation or solely in relation to one another. There’s a large and complex strategic context to the decisions by China, India, Pakistan and North Korea to invest in submarine-launched nuclear weapons programs, by the United States and Russia to modernise their own, and by the United States and its allies—notably Japan and Australia—to double down on their advantages in anti-submarine warfare.

Nuclear strategy can’t be divorced from multi-layered maritime competition involving everything from territorial disputes to resource exploitation to conventional naval operations. The contest for authority and control in the South China Sea isn’t simply about fish, energy resources, nationalism and history, but has a bearing on the balance of military power and prospects for coercion or deterrence in a crisis, right up to the nuclear level. Meanwhile, Chinese and American investments in disruptive technologies—such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and new sensing techniques—are part of a broader strategic competition related in part to deterrence in the maritime domain.

Serious complications arise, however, given the increased assertiveness of China’s wider strategic activity. Even if the Pentagon’s warnings of China’s hegemonistic ambitions are less than fully substantiated, it is clear that China under President Xi Jinping has set for itself strategic objectives that run counter to interests that other nations, and of course Taiwan, are willing to defend. Several of the region’s long-standing ‘flashpoints’ involve these clashes of interests, including territorial disputes in the South China Sea and in the East China Sea. The most obvious flashpoint involves Beijing’s insistence, enshrined in the so-called Anti-Secession Law, that it will use force to prevent Taiwan from formalising its independence.

Most of the many tensions that accompany China’s strategic assertiveness are in themselves unlikely to lead to armed conflict, let alone escalation to nuclear threats. In the South China Sea, Beijing has often been careful to rely on paramilitary coastguard units and militias to bully Vietnam and the Philippines, rather than resorting to direct application of naval force, but that may be changing. That said, Vietnam in particular has the emerging military capability to put Chinese forces at risk, at least in the early stages of a clash. More profoundly with regard to the nuclear issue, one credible explanation for China’s campaign of building and militarising islands in recent years has been its wish to secure control of the South China Sea to make that area an SSBN bastion. Disturbingly, the global shock of Covid-19 has barely interrupted China’s efforts to dominate the South China Sea.

In the East China Sea, China has for the moment backed away from high-risk confrontations with capable (and now reinforced) Japanese forces, not least following clarification that the US considers its security treaty to apply to clashes over the islands in question. In the Indian Ocean, it’s difficult to imagine a China–India confrontation—for instance, over the fate of a small island state such as the Maldives—escalating to war, although reports have surfaced that even the land-border clash at Doklam led Delhi to look for ways to remind Beijing of the nuclear factor. In North Asia, crisis scenarios involving the Korean peninsula could lead to US–China confrontation, but they could also lead to a degree of US–China cooperation, with the principal nuclear threat being the regime in Pyongyang, not each other.

In the end, however, the clearest prospect of armed confrontation between China and the US leading to nuclear threats continues to revolve around the status of Taiwan. There is a strategic logic to the PRC gaining military control over Taiwan, to break through China’s geographic constraint by way of the ‘island chains’ and secure access to the open Pacific. It would be an oversimplification to argue that a Taiwan crisis would escalate quickly to the nuclear level. There would be several ways for Chinese forces to initiate coercion, include economic blockade and cyberattacks. And the subsequent conflict could drag out on multiple levels, including international economic and diplomatic pressure on China.

Nonetheless, a Taiwan crisis—or indeed another conflict, such as one arising from a US–China skirmish in the South China Sea—could lead to a wider mobilisation of forces, including Chinese SSBNs and US and allied anti-submarine warfare assets, perhaps with nations pre-empting each other rather than necessarily planning to attack.

The role of China’s immature SSBN fleet in such a situation is unclear, but a few credible possibilities exist. It seems highly unlikely that China would threaten nuclear attack on Taiwan: it claims, after all, to be liberating its misguided compatriots. Nonetheless, wanting to reserve the right to retaliate to a future US nuclear attack, and thus seeking to discourage US conventional military intervention as well, Beijing could well choose to take precautions to protect its nuclear forces at an early stage. In the case of the SSBN fleet, this could involve putting boats to sea as soon as possible rather than keeping them inside their hardened ‘dens’ on Hainan.

Will future ‘game-changing’ detection technologies render the oceans transparent? Such a breakthrough threatens the assumption that SSBNs are invulnerable—core to the concept of strategic stability. Amid this uncertainty, it’s clear that undersea nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pacific is increasingly complex, as both established and emerging players deploy more of their nuclear arsenals underwater. We know that strategy, geography and technology in relation to undersea nuclear deterrence had profound implications for stability during the Cold War, and can safely surmise that they will again in the future of the Indo-Pacific.


Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
Amidst Chinese aggressiveness, India invites Vietnam to be part of Indo Pacific Oceans initiative
India has invited Vietnam to part of its Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative or IPOI that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during last year's East Asia Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Increasing trade connectivity- maritime transport and Maritime security are among the 7 key pillars of the initiative. Other 5 are-- Maritime ecology, maritime resources, capacity building and resource sharing, disaster risk reduction and management, science, technology and academic cooperation.

The invitation was extended during the 17th India-Vietnam Joint Commission Meeting led by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Vietnam's foreign minister Pham Binh Minh.

A statement by the ministry of external affairs said, “India and Vietnam agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific to achieve shared security, prosperity and growth for all in the region."

Invitation to Vietnam comes even as both New Delhi and Hanoi deal with an aggressive China. While Bejing's ties with India deteriorated after Galwan face-off, Vietnam has raised alarm after Chinese intrusion into its exclusive economic zone.

Both sides have increased engagement in the last few years with a high-level visit such as the visit of Vietnam's President to India and Indian PM visit to Vietnam. India and Vietnam will serve concurrently as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 2021.


Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
As relations with Beijing sour, Canada works on an Indo-Pacific strategy. But no one will talk about it
VANCOUVER—The federal government has been quietly working on an Indo-Pacific strategy — perhaps since last year — and one critic says the tight-lipped approach raises questions about the plan’s progress.

As relations with Beijing continue to sour, a renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific area is seen as a way for Canada to diversify its foreign trade away from China and towards the two-dozen-nation region, which includes countries such as India, Australia and Indonesia.

The approach has been touted by foreign relations and trade experts as an initiative Ottawa must undertake in the face of an increasingly hostile mainland China.

But Conservative MP and a member of Parliament’s Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, Garnett Genuis, said he’s concerned nothing has been publicly released about the strategy. He said he hadn’t even heard the government was working on it until reached by the Star.

“I can’t recall any mention of it being made at any point by ministers or government witnesses,” Genuis said. “It’s further demonstration they are not taking the need for Indo-Pacific engagement as seriously as they should be.”

According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 Canada imported $46 billion worth of goods from China while exporting $29 billion to the country.

The same year Canada’s combined exports to top Indo-Pacific countries India and Japan totalled $18 billion while imports from those nations hit $17 billion.

Global Affairs Canada said the strategy will involve foreign policy, trade, and development assistance, but would not say when details may be revealed.

Global Affairs spokesperson Angela Savard said Canada is engaging in an Indo-Pacific strategy and it will be supported by the country’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The 11-nation, free-trade partnership was first signed in late 2018 and involves countries around the Asia-Pacific region. China is not part of the agreement.

According to the government’s online staff directory Evelyn Puxley, a former director of political and co-ordination with Global Affair’s greater China division, is the lead on the strategy.A LinkedIn page appearing to be Puxley’s said she was placed in the role last November. She did not return calls made by the Star to her work number.As relations between Canada and China have deteriorated in recent years following the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport at the request of the United States, pressure for Ottawa to seek out new trading partners has grown.
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston is a former assistant deputy minister who spent decades helping to build relations between Canada and China and has recently called for Ottawa to focus more on the Indo-Pacific region.Reached by the Star last Friday, McCuaig-Johnston said Canada needs to deepen engagement with countries in the region via health, economics, security and build closer relations with Taiwan.“This is all very hypothetical because we don’t know what the government might want to do on this,” she said. “We haven’t seen any kind of announcement or anybody exploring the idea publicly.”Charles Burton, a former diplomat and expert on Canada-China relations with the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said Canada’s involvement with the CPTPP is a big part of the plan as members of the pact are already Indo-Pacific countries.Now, Burton said, Canada should look at the rest of the countries in the Indo-Pacific region to forge trade and security relations as a “common front” to counter China’s influence.He said trade with Indo-Pacific countries could eventually surpass trade with China and lead to more reciprocity and fair trade between Canada and its partner nations.
Burton said he thinks the strategy is being kept under wraps for fear of angering Beijing and because many in the civil service who encouraged Canada to grow ties with China over the years may see the plan as an admission their China strategy has failed.He said the approach has hurt Canadian interests in trade and other areas.“I think that there is a misrepresentation of the significance of the Chinese economy to Canada,” he said, “which is then used as a justification for compromise of our Canadians interests in the security area and in the maintenance of norms of governance and fairness and reciprocity.”

From politics to policing, hospitals to housing, we report on the issues that affect us all. We hold the powerful accountable and help create a Canada that works for every one of us.

Genuis said the Liberal government has been working on the strategy long enough for some details of the plan to be spoken about publicly, but he worries some in Ottawa have yet to move on from their original vision of Canada-China relations.

He said many countries and observers who follow developments regarding China realize relations with Beijing will not “snap back” to where they were prior to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, this government has been slow to recognize the reality that they can’t have all their eggs in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) basket,” he said. “There’s still many people within government who would like to ignore our Indo-Pacific allies and instead focus exclusively appease the PRC and get back to what they see as normal.”
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
New bloc of Australia, India, Indonesia takes shape amid China fears
Shared anxiety over China is driving Australia and Asia's two biggest democracies, India and Indonesia, together into a new trilateral bloc, with foreign and defence ministers set to meet virtually in coming weeks for a historic summit.

Officials say the body could become one of the region's most important "minilaterals" given the status of the three countries involved.


Australian and Indonesian ministers Linda Reynolds, Marise Payne, Retno Marsudi and Prabowo Subianto will meet virtually with their Indian counterparts in coming weeks. AP

After lengthy legwork, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Indonesian and Indian counterparts, Retno Marsudi and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, will meet for a virtual summit later this month, according to The Hindustan Times.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will meet her counterparts shortly afterwards.

Neither Senator Payne nor Senator Reynolds would confirm their participation in the summit.

However, Dr Retno told reporters in Jakarta she had discussed the planned meeting with Senator Payne in a phone call last week and suggested the discussion would cover "regional issues", along with co-operating on efforts to combat the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.
Senator Reynolds told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in July Australia was trying to bring together the Indonesian and Indian navies to start a joint program of maritime exercises.
The Hindustan Times quoted an unnamed official as describing the preparations as a "fast-moving trilateral".
"All three countries have a shared interest in an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," the official said.
At the end of the day, they will remain non-aligned and don't want to get too close to anything that would look like a military alliance.
— Ben Bland, Director of the Lowy Institute's Southeast Asia program
Indonesia and India have had recent disputes with China – Indonesia over incursions into its waters by Chinese fishermen, and India over a border dispute in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
However, ASPI executive director Peter Jennings said the trilateral grouping should not be positioned as an anti-China bloc.

"The smart thing would not make it specifically about China, although unquestionably each of these countries have reason to be concerned about how China is behaving at the moment," he said.
"You'd imagine when they are alone the ministers would talk about it."

Mr Jennings said joint maritime patrols and aerial surveillance were a natural fit for Australia and Indonesia, while with creative thinking, Christmas Island and the Cocos islands could be used to host military operations.
Director of the Lowy Institute's Southeast Asia program, Ben Bland, said momentum to bring together Australia, India and Indonesia had restarted in the last couple of years after past attempts to bring the three countries together with a focus on the Indian Ocean had faded out.
"The three countries come at it from different perspectives, but it's about securing stability and balance in the region amid China's assertiveness and uncertainty over the US," Mr Bland said.
There is a lot of expectation on Indonesian shoulders but the truth is Jokowi as president is much more interested in domestic affairs than international ones.
— Ben Bland
There were limits on how far Indonesia and India would go in standing up to Beijing, he said.
"At the end of the day, they will remain non-aligned and don't want to get too close to anything that would look like a military alliance," Mr Bland said.

He said Australia's two-way relationships with India and Indonesia were the best they had been but the India-Indonesia bilateral was the weak link.

The trilateral would be an opportunity for India to do more in south-east Asia while seeing Indonesia step up in keeping with its rising status, although he cautioned that ambitions for Jakarta should be tempered.
"There is a lot of expectation on Indonesian shoulders but the truth is Jokowi as president is much more interested in domestic affairs than international ones," Mr Bland.

News of the planned trilateral comes days after US officials said foreign ministers from Australia, the US, Japan and India would meet in Delhi in coming months for only the second time in recognition of the growing importance of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun flagged expanding the Quad in the future to also include South Korea, Vietnam and New Zealand.
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
Sustaining the Future of Indo-Pacific Defense Strategy
The Bottom Line
  • The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) should sustain the Indo-Pacific as the priority theater.
  • To fully realize this prioritization, the drafters and implementers of the next NDS must close the gap between strategic ambition in the region and resources applied by:
    • Prioritizing the operational challenges present in the Indo-Pacific in force design and posture
    • Modernizing U.S. military training and exercising programs in the Indo-Pacific
    • Strengthening U.S. alliances in the region
The 2018 National Defense Strategy places the Indo-Pacific region at the heart of U.S. defense strategy, and the 2022 NDS should sustain this prioritization.1 The United States faces numerous security challenges, including Russian or North Korean military provocations, non-state extremism, and even non-traditional threats such as pandemic diseases and climate change, all of which the Department of Defense (DoD) may rightly be called on to address. Yet the core mission of the DoD must be to deter, and if necessary, respond to, military aggression that threatens the United States, its interests, and its allies. China’s growing military power, combined with its economic might, presents the most complex deterrence problem facing the United States, and should therefore be the DoD’s top priority.

Yet the core mission of the DoD must be to deter, and if necessary, respond to, military aggression that threatens the United States, its interests, and its allies.

However, the crafters and implementers of the next NDS must address a long-standing shortcoming: the failure to adequately match resources to strategic ambition in the region that is most important to long-term U.S. security and prosperity.

Like the Pentagon’s “rebalance” strategy that preceded it, the 2018 NDS has been plagued from the outset with questions about whether it has an adequate implementation plan—and, more specifically, the resources—to achieve its goals. The National Defense Strategy Commission, a bipartisan group of high-level defense experts, argued in 2018: “We believe that the NDS points the Department of Defense (DoD) and the country in the right direction, but it does not adequately explain how we should get there.”2 It added in a more pointed critique: “The Commission assesses unequivocally that the NDS is not adequately resourced . . . available resources are clearly insufficient to fulfill the strategy’s ambitious goals.”

The gap between Indo-Pacific budgets and U.S. strategy is a long-running problem. It is also one that has the potential to intensify over the next few years, just as it did following the 2008–9 recession. Republicans are already signaling a return to their deficit-busting theology, while the calls for a new doctrine of military restraint gain steam within the Democratic party.4 Without a clear plan to manage these dynamics, a new administration risks facing the same chaotic budget-cutting drills that plagued the DoD during the decade defined by the 2010 Budget Control Act. This would be a particularly damaging development. It would not only further undermine U.S. defense credibility with Asian allies, but also exacerbate China’s opportunistic provocations—a reality that I saw first-hand at the Pentagon while watching China’s march through the South China Sea in 2014.

The gap between Indo-Pacific budgets and U.S. strategy is a long-running problem.

The past few months have reinforced the need for a strong and credible U.S. defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific. U.S. strategy will only be credible if it is fiscally sustainable, and if a new administration has a plan to sustain this support even as the budget belt tightens. This can be accomplished, but it will require leaning into some necessary realignments in U.S. policy and operations that have thus far been avoided. As my former colleague Susanna Blume has argued, how DoD spends its budget is more important than the budget’s overall size.5 This paper outlines three primary areas that the drafters of the next NDS should address: investment, jointness, and alliances and partnerships.

Prioritizing Investment: Building a Force for the Indo-Pacific
There is widespread agreement among national security experts that the erosion of America’s military technological advantage has created a serious and growing conventional deterrence problem in the Indo-Pacific. There is also relatively uniform agreement that the deterrence problem has not just intensified, but has become more complex. The current NDS reflects this more multifaceted challenge, arguing that U.S. forces must be prepared to restore deterrence across multiple domains, which includes “bolstering partners against coercion.”6 The current NDS is right to acknowledge the need to restore deterrence against the full spectrum of potential aggression. China’s growing military capabilities pose a challenge in each of these domains. This presents a problem for U.S. defense leaders: In a world of competing priorities, where is the next defense dollar best spent?

A common view among defense leaders is that the most effective way to deter China is to credibly demonstrate the ability to prevail in a conventional conflict.7 From this viewpoint, the DoD needs to more narrowly focus its investments on core military missions in the Indo-Pacific. Achieving this goal in an era of constrained resources means prioritizing the sustainment of U.S. military technological advantage over China, developing new operational concepts, focusing joint training and exercising on high-end conflict, investing in a more resilient force posture, and preserving readiness by limiting certain kinds of steady state activity.

However, as former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy has observed, “Effective deterrence does not depend just on Chinese leaders believing the United States has the capability to thwart any act of aggression; they must also believe it has the will to do so.”8 The same is true for U.S. allies. Successfully bolstering partners—a key element of U.S. deterrence—depends on providing credible signals of political will as much as on demonstrating U.S. capability.

This points to a fundamental question for U.S. defense strategy: In a theater in which a large-scale conventional war is possible, but less likely than competition below the level of armed conflict or short, limited hostilities, what is the right balance between deterring high-end conflict and countering coercion of U.S. allies? This is not to suggest that the United States should not and will not need to do both. But the investments and posture needed to deter conventional conflict and gray zone aggression are not necessarily aligned. For example, should DoD double down on investments in hypersonic weapons or next generation aviation? They help to ensure continued U.S. military technological superiority, but they are expensive and may not be necessary in a limited conflict. Or do increased U.S. presence operations and joint engagements with allies in the South China Sea provide greater relative value in deterring Chinese aggression? If so, this approach also has implications for force design, potentially requiring more smaller ships and ground forces.

What is the right balance between deterring high-end conflict and countering coercion of U.S. allies?

Beyond the question of how to balance between competing priorities, there is a more fundamental question about what role the Defense Department should play in gray zone deterrence. This question has long been a point of contention when it comes to investments in the Indo-Pacific theater, where combatant command requests have often focused on “shaping” activities that emphasize a more active focus on “competition short of armed conflict.” The challenge is that these same initiatives often lack a clear through line to combat credibility and requirements, which drive Pentagon investment decisions. Some believe that managing competition below the level of armed conflict should be a key defense mission, given China’s clear preference for leaning on paramilitary and proxy forces to achieve its aims.9 Others argue that the military must focus on the aspect of the competition that only it can provide—the controlled application of violence to a political end—while leaving U.S. diplomatic and economic agencies in the lead for addressing gray zone threats.

DoD should remain primarily focused on deterring armed conflict by being prepared to fight and win, should it become necessary, and should invest accordingly. However, a narrow focus on technological innovation, power projection, and the capabilities needed once a conflict is already underway will be insufficient. While civilian agencies should be primarily responsible for competition below the level of armed conflict, DoD has a role to play in this space as well, and modest investments in terms of both forces and readiness are warranted. The space between the grey zone and conventional conflict may be fluid. As other experts in this series have argued, deterrence requires convincing both allies and adversaries alike that there are no quick wins to be had and that U.S. forces will be present from the outset of potential aggression.10 Going forward, DoD will need to think more creatively about the investments needed to facilitate sustainable and persistent allied operations throughout the region in advance of, not only during, a potential conflict.

Prioritizing Jointness: How the U.S. Military Trains and Fights
The Department will need to focus more seriously on increasing the services’ ability to operate jointly. This, of course, is not a new argument. But it is one that will take on greater urgency, given the operational challenges China presents. Although Department guidance has advocated greater jointness since its creation, progress toward this goal has been episodic and incomplete. Each of the services is in the process of designing new operating concepts—a welcome and needed development—but the long-awaited Joint Warfighting Concept that could tie these ideas together is still in progress. Meanwhile, service-specific priorities continue to drive the defense budget.

One advantage of the DoD’s approach to operational concept development thus far, which has been essentially to “let a thousand flowers bloom,” is that it has allowed for important conceptual innovations, many of which are particularly relevant in the Indo-Pacific region. The Air Force’s work on Joint All-Domain Command and Control is the glue that will hold together the joint force in a high-end war. The Army’s Pacific Pathways and Multi-Domain Taskforce provide new ways of making that service more relevant in a predominantly air and maritime theater. Similarly, new planning guidance from the Commandant of the Marine Corps is a bold step forward in thinking about integrated, expeditionary naval forces. But the problem is that each of these concepts “focuses on a different aspect of multidomain operations, and each has adopted different assumptions about war against a major power.”

Service-specific priorities continue to drive the defense budget.

Another consideration is that the Department will need to address the question of training. Put simply, the Indo-Pacific exercise program is no longer fit for its purpose. While U.S. forces conduct 90 named Indo-Pacific exercises each year, the existing program is heavily weighted toward either large and expensive flagship exercises—many of which contain outdated mission sets—or smaller bilateral engagements that provide little operational value for U.S. forces. Going forward, this will need to change. U.S. forces need to train more realistically in the types of complex scenarios they will face, ranging from the gray zone to high-end contingencies. They also need to train more frequently in the way U.S. forces would actually fight, which is jointly. Fortunately, the department has a funding stream designed just for this purpose: the Combatant Command Exercise and Engagement and Training Transformation, or CE2T2.

However, adding additional exercise money will not address the more fundamental overhauls needed in the Pacific exercise program. Department leaders need to look across the joint program, as well as in individual service programs, to cull activities that no longer provide value. They need to focus on quality over quantity in training engagements.

At the same time, DoD leaders will need to be creative in building exercise plans that balance between the imperatives for joint exercises and combined exercises. U.S. allies and partners prize participation in combined exercises such as the Navy’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) or the Air Force’s Red Flag, and these engagements play an important political-military role in U.S. defense partnerships. While the Department should not ignore the value it receives from combined training engagements, they too should be recalibrated to provide greater operational utility. This could include designing more opportunities for combined high-end training, or pushing for a coalition approach to high-end experimentation and exercises. The Indo-Pacific Command’s new proposal for a Pacific Multi-Domain Training and Experimentation Capability, which would entail an integrated coalition network of virtual and live-fire training ranges, could provide a valuable step in this direction.

Prioritizing Alliances and Partnerships: Who Is on the Team?
Finally, the new NDS will need to tackle the question of collective defense. The U.S. alliance and partner network is the DoD’s single greatest competitive advantage vis-à-vis Beijing, and the central element of any Indo-Pacific strategy. Even though President Donald Trump’s approach to alliance “burden sharing” has been uniquely harmful, he is right that U.S. allies can do more. The United States and its allies have steadily enhanced alliance coordination and interoperability, but the Indo-Pacific region lacks the kind of integrated planning mechanisms and multinational defense structures that would make collective defense a more tangible reality.

Managing the risks of China’s rapid military modernization will require the United States and its allies to think much more seriously about how to integrate their capabilities and obtain advantages of scale over Beijing. This goal will be even more pressing in a post-coronavirus era, when not only U.S. defense budgets, but those of allies as well are likely to feel the sting of long-term recessionary pressures. The ambition sounds simple. In practice it will require much more focused efforts than previous administrations have made to coordinate and align strategic and operational planning, force design, and budget decisions.

A piece of this puzzle will be to encourage allies to enhance their own defense spending, but on average, this is an easier problem to manage in the Indo-Pacific context than in Europe. During the past few years, many U.S. allies and partners have increased defense spending and committed to new long-term investment plans. Japan, for example, has committed to annual increases in its defense budget for eight consecutive years. Similarly, Australia’s Defence Strategic Update commits $270 billion to that nation’s new military investments.13 The more challenging nut to crack will be shaping the contours of these plans, and working to create greater alignment among the force employment patterns and force structures of the United States and its allies.

The place to start might be force presence coordination that takes advantage of existing complementarities between allied militaries. The United States faces a serious numeric disadvantage vis-à-vis Beijing in maintaining a steady state surface presence in the South China Sea, but closing this gap with new U.S. surface assets would require additional force structure and further decrement to naval readiness in the region. Instead, the Defense Department could take further steps to more explicitly coordinate force presence with allies and partners including Japan, Australia, the UK, France, and even India, to maintain a higher tempo of like-minded surface operations. Similarly, the United States could leverage allied reconnaissance assets to help build a common maritime operating picture. The U.S. military has already conducted similar operations with Australia in the Middle East. It could leverage Japan’s very capable submarine fleet to further strengthen allied subsea advantages. Over time such operations could also explore multinational deployment models—for example, more regular integration of allied destroyers into the operations of U.S. carrier strike groups. The Department has already initiated similar conversations with the UK and France. It is past time to begin pursuing them with Indo-Pacific allies as well.

Beyond presence coordination, the more difficult but important conversations to begin should explore how to align allied force structure and investments. As China’s military capabilities continue to advance, the United States and its allies will increasingly need to look to the capacity of their combined forces, rather than making investment plans in isolation from one another. Shifting toward more coordinated planning and investment processes with U.S. allies is admittedly a long-term undertaking and necessitates careful navigation of domestic politics on all sides. It requires providing allies with deeper insights into U.S. planning, but also engaging in frank conversations about contingencies where U.S. and allied perspectives may not be fully aligned. Yet a failure to move in this direction speaks to the very credibility of U.S. alliances. If the United States and its allies cannot plan and invest around the presumption that they will not fight alone, we have all in a sense, already lost.

Defense leaders have been signaling for months that they expect the halcyon days of budget plus-ups to soon be a thing of the past. The prospect of a protracted post-COVID-19 recession will only accelerate and sharpen many difficult choices already on the horizon. The opening salvo in a looming defense debate arrived on May 19 in the form of a letter from nearly 30 House progressives to Democratic leaders, arguing that “America needs a coronavirus cure, not more war.”14 While there will not be a resolution to this debate until after the presidential elections, U.S. defense leaders need a plan for what a more constrained budget environment means for defense priorities. The future of U.S. defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific is among the most important issues to consider. The recommendations offered here represent a starting place for understanding the resourcing priorities necessary to fully realize the Indo-Pacific as the U.S. military’s priority theater.


Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
Tokyo must thwart Beijing's Senkaku strategy
The understanding reached between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese President Xi Jinping to pursue high-level contacts is unlikely to stem China’s incursions into the Senkaku territorial waters and airspace. But it will allow Xi’s regime to blend engagement with containment, including challenging Japan’s control of the Senkaku Islands and strengthening Chinese claims of sovereignty over them.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s proposed visit to Tokyo will likely have the same core agenda that his recent trip to Europe had — to avert economic decoupling from China and dissuade U.S. allies from supporting Washington’s moves to impose checks on the exercise of Chinese power. China, however, is unwilling to curb its economic and territorial expansionism.

In fact, Xi continues to push the boundaries, as underscored by the multiple fronts he has opened simultaneously, including in the East and South China seas, the Himalayan frontier, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Yet, Xi has sought to portray China as a country of peace, telling the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 22, “We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a cold war or a hot war with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation.”

Xi’s words rang hollow, especially as they came amid the border aggression he has launched against India since April, when the People’s Liberation Army made stealth encroachments on the highlands of Indian Ladakh. The intrusions have triggered a major India-China military standoff along one of the world’s most inhospitable and treacherous borders, which is as long as the distance between Tokyo and Hanoi.

There are important parallels between the way China is pursuing its territorial revisionism against its two main rivals in Asia, Japan and India. Indeed, China is pursuing a strategy of attrition and containment against both.

More fundamentally, Xi’s regime is pushing expansive territorial claims in Asia on the basis of revisionist history, not international law. Its weak legal case was highlighted by an international arbitral tribunal’s 2016 ruling that invalidated its claims in the South China Sea.

In international law, a territorial claim must be based on continuous and peaceful exercise of sovereignty over the territory concerned. There is absolutely no evidence that China ever had effective control over, for example, the Senkaku Islands.

In fact, China began claiming the Senkakus only after a United Nation agency’s report in 1969 referred to the possible existence of oil reserves in the East China Sea. It was not until the early 1970s that Chinese documents began applying the name “Diaoyu” to the Senkakus and claiming they were part of China.

Sinicizing the names of territories it claims is an old tactic of the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP’s record also reveals its penchant to create a dispute out of the blue by claiming that the territory it covets was part of China since ancient times.

Under Xi, China’s incursions into the Senkaku territorial waters and airspace have steadily intensified, not just in frequency but also with the entry of larger vessels and armed ships. In recent months, China has sought to even police the waters off the Senkakus.

If history is not to be repeated, Suga should draw some lessons, including from the record of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

The first lesson is that establishing better relations with Beijing doesn’t necessarily yield better Chinese behavior. Xi’s aggressive revisionism is unaffected by diplomatic progress.

For example, Abe’s 2018 visit to Beijing was instrumental in helping improve ties with China. Yet the ensuing diplomatic progress, far from reining in China’s aggressive actions, engendered increasing Chinese intrusions, including the longest series of incursions into Japanese waters in years.

A second lesson is that responding with notable restraint to China’s belligerence only encourages Beijing to further up the ante. Consider the startling fact that no Japanese defense minister has ever conducted an aerial survey of the Senkakus. In August, the then-defense minister, Taro Kono, decided to break that taboo but then backed off “so as not to provoke China.”

Such shrinking from purely defensive action explains why an emboldened China has stepped up incursions. Japan needs to strengthen its administrative and security control over the Senkakus.

A third lesson relates to China’s strategy. Deception, concealment and surprise are central to China’s strategy to win without fighting. It adheres to the ancient theorist Sun Tzu’s advice, “The ability to subdue the enemy without any battle is the ultimate reflection of the most supreme strategy.”

This approach involves taking an adversary by surprise, including seizing an opportunistic timing, and camouflaging offense as defense.

China’s war of attrition against Japan over the Senkakus has already disturbed the status quo, including by making the international community recognize the existence of a dispute and by regularizing Chinese incursions. China persists with its recklessly provocative actions, including ignoring the risk that an incident could spiral out of control.

A fourth lesson is that as long as China perceives strategic benefits as outweighing costs, Xi will persist with his strategy of attrition against Japan. Xi’s strategy is imposing greater security costs on Japan than on China.

Against this background, a Chinese strike against the Senkaku Islands could conceivably come when Japan has been lulled into complacency and least expects an attack. This is what happened to India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not see the Chinese aggression coming because his vision had been clouded by the naive hope that, by meeting Xi 18 times in about five years, he had reset the bilateral relationship.

China’s aim against Japan is to progressively alter the territorial status quo in its favor. Despite the Suga-Xi understanding, Chinese provocations could escalate.

Japan has spent years being on the defensive, allowing China to keep the initiative. It is past time for Tokyo to come out of its reactive mode and turn the tables on China’s machinations by responding assertively. It must frustrate China’s strategy of incrementally altering the status quo without incurring substantive costs.

Japan ought to look at ways to impose costs. This could include first warning Beijing that its provocative actions, such as chasing Japanese fishing vessels within Japanese territorial waters, would henceforth be firmly countered. If provocative actions persist despite the warning, the Japan Coast Guard could selectively act against some intruding Chinese state ships.

To be sure, effectively countering Chinese incursions demands more than ramming or disabling intruding ships and detaining their crews. It calls for an important shift in Japan’s policies, including building defensive facilities in the Senkakus. Japan could begin modestly by building an environmental monitoring station in the Senkakus.

China, of course, will react furiously to any Japanese counteractions. But at a time when the international environment is turning hostile to Xi’s expansionism, Japan must display strength and resolve. If not, China will bring Japanese security under increasing pressure in the coming years.

Japan has a strong case, anchored in international law, that it has exercised sovereignty over the Senkakus since 1895. But make no mistake: The future of the Senkakus will not be decided by international law, even though a just, rules-based order is essential for international peace and security.

The South China Sea is a reminder that international law is powerless against the powerful. China has turned its contrived historical claims in the South China Sea into reality and gained strategic depth, despite the international tribunal’s ruling against it.

Japan undoubtedly faces hard choices. But accommodation with an unyielding China is simply not possible.

Without concrete counteractions, Japan will increasingly find itself at the receiving end of China’s muscular revisionism. To stop its security from coming under siege, Japan must act — with calm, confidence and firmness.
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Senior member
Dec 3, 2017
Cambodia caught in the middle of US-China clash over South China Sea military bases
Last weekend, in a speech at the virtual United Nations General Assembly, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rebuked “some countries” for increasingly interfering in the sovereignty of smaller countries.

“As a peace-loving small country committed to democratic principles, Cambodia can play its part in the international community only if it is assured that the rules governing the international system are fairly applied,” he said.

“Unfortunately, all too often, depending on the political ambition and hidden opportunistic agenda of some countries, Cambodia had to deal with hypocritical double-standards, biased and politically motivated decisions, in short, injustice.”

Just days before the speech, the US treasury department issued sanctions against Chinese company Union Development Group which is developing the Dara Sakor tourism zone in Cambodia as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Act, an American domestic law that authorises the US president to sanction, block and seize assets of alleged human rights abusers.

Union Development Group was granted a 99-year lease in 2008 to build the project. When completed, it will be a coastal resort area spanning 36,000 hectares (89,000 acres) with golf courses, casinos, luxury housing, an airport and a port large enough for cruise ships, taking up around 20 per cent of Cambodia’s small coastline.

South China Sea: Don’t let China ‘walk over us’, says Pompeo during Asean meeting
The US accused the company of wrongly seizing Cambodian land, destroying the Botum Sakor National Park where the land was located and being a front for China to “advance ambitions to project power globally”.

At the same time, Cambodia slammed two US politicians, namely Robert Destro and Alan Lowenthal, for interfering in its domestic affairs after they criticised the Southeast Asian nation for the arrests of Cambodian trade unionists, human rights defenders and environmentalists.

The sanctions on Union Development Group prohibit US citizens or companies from doing business with the company, while any connection to the company in the US must also be reported.

A key issue raised in the sanctions relates to US concerns over the prospect of Chinese military bases being built in Dara Sakor.

While the layman would not be able to read between the lines, unfortunately for China, the policymakers in Washington do Rayan Bhagwagar

Jindal School of International Affairs’ Rayan Bhagwagar, who studies China’s overseas military bases, agreed the underlying motivation for the sanctions was military in nature, in particular, a tactic to combat China’s claims in the South China Sea.

The US has challenged China’s claims in the South China Sea, calling them “completely unlawful”, and the Cambodian sanctions tie in with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s warning last year that belt and road projects are being used by China to secure a “state national security element” in various countries.

“While the layman would not be able to read between the lines, unfortunately for China, the policymakers in Washington do,” Bhagwagar said.

“Be it Pakistan or [formerly] the Maldives, or even Cambodia, China is able to secure good relations and strongholds with countries where the respective leadership puts forward the security and longevity of their tenure before that of its people.”

Bhagwagar said China tended to find military alliances with the “vulnerable states with questionable political authority over their people”.

“It’s fair game to say that Cambodia is a politically vulnerable country. Its dictatorial leader – Hun Sen – has leased a large area of Cambodian land to China which the latter has essentially colonised, through the establishment of a vast array of Chinese business entities,” Bhagwagar said.

Countries caught between the two contesting powers have, however, started to stand up against having to take sides. On Tuesday, Portugal rebuffed a US “blackmail” threat to impose sanctions on Portuguese companies doing business with China, while also rejecting Washington’s call for Lisbon to choose between the US and China.

Cambodia too, as indicated in Hun Sen’s speech, has also rejected US control, denying China has plans to build military bases in Cambodia, in particular a military airbase at the new Dara Sakor airport.

Cambodia welcomes all fact-finding missions from the United States or any other country to validate the facts and put an end to all allegations, false accusations and rumours Council for the Development of Cambodia

Union Development Group is building a US$3.5 billion airport to facilitate access to its resort and the surrounding Dara Sakor area which sits in the remote Koh Kong province.

“The ambitious scale of the airport is simply to accommodate significant volumes of future visitors,” the company said.
Both the Council for the Development of Cambodia and Union Development Group issued lengthy statements refuting the US allegations, and in particular said the constitution forbids foreign military bases on Cambodian territory.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia has repeatedly rejected reports that Cambodia could accept any foreign military to be stationed on its territory. Consequently, Cambodia welcomes all fact-finding missions from the United States or any other country to validate the facts and put an end to all allegations, false accusations and rumours,” said the Council for the Development of Cambodia statement.

Philippine President Duterte raises 2016 South China Sea tribunal win at United Nations
Philippine President Duterte raises 2016 South China Sea tribunal win at United Nations

Philippine President Duterte raises 2016 South China Sea tribunal win at United Nations

Philippine President Duterte raises 2016 South China Sea tribunal win at United Nations
Both groups also slammed the US for inaccurately calling Union Development Group a “state-owned” Chinese company.

Union Development Group is listed as a private company, owned by the Tianjin Union Investment Development Group based in Tianjin, which specialises in real estate development. Tianjin Union also has developments on Hainan Island in China.

In 2015, the Cambodia Human Rights Task Force, which fights Cambodia’s illegal logging, found corruption in the allocation of compensation and unfair compensations to villagers affected by the Dara Sakor project.


Senior member
Dec 3, 2017

Chinese envoy says Canada’s acceptance of Hong Kong refugees jeopardizes Canadians in former British colony​

China’s ambassador to Canada is urging Ottawa to stop granting asylum to democracy activists from Hong Kong, whom he described as violent criminals, and warned that accepting these people could jeopardize the “health and safety” of 300,000 Canadians who live in the former British colony.

Asked if he was issuing a threat, envoy Cong Peiwu replied: “That is your interpretation.”

He also rejected the accusation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week that his country practises “coercive diplomacy.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne called the envoy’s statements inappropriate.

“The reported comments by the Chinese ambassador are totally unacceptable and disturbing,” the minister said in a statement.

“I have instructed Global Affairs to call the Ambassador in to make clear in no uncertain terms that Canada will always stand up for human rights and the rights of Canadians around the world.”

The Chinese ambassador to Canada is warning Ottawa not to grant asylum to Hong Kong residents fleeing the national-security law imposed by Beijing. The Canadian Press

Mr. Cong used a news conference on Thursday marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries to say Beijing finds it unacceptable that Canada recently accepted two Hong Kong pro-democracy dissidents as political refugees. He also took strong exception to a call from nearly 60 MPs and senators to shelter more Hong Kong residents fleeing China’s national-security law.

“We strongly urge the Canadian side not to grant so-called political asylum to those violent criminals in Hong Kong, because it is interference in China’s domestic affairs, and certainly it will embolden those violent criminals,” he said.

The Globe and Mail has reported that Canada has accepted at least two Hong Kong activists as refugees, granting them protection in early September. More than 45 other dissidents are awaiting approval for asylum, sources have told The Globe.

Mr. Cong indicated any further action to shelter Hong Kong residents could have consequences for the many Canadians living in the Asian financial hub.

“If the Canadian side really cares about the stability and the prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong … you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes,” he said.

More than three months ago, Beijing imposed a new national-security law on Hong Kong that criminalizes dissent and protest with penalties of up to life in prison.

Mr. Cong said the measure provides stability.

“I want to make clear that a stable and prosperous Hong Kong … is not only in the interest of the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, but it is also conducive to the majority of those … law-abiding foreigners and enterprises in Hong Kong,” he said.

The ambassador also said Beijing would have a “strong reaction” if Parliament were to pass any resolution that condemned China’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority as “genocide.” More than one million Uyghurs are in detention camps in Xinjiang province, facilities the Chinese government calls “vocational and education training centres."

“We will take resolute measures to safeguard our sovereignty and national security,” he said. He rejected widespread allegations that genocide is taking place in Xinjiang, saying the Uyghurs “live in harmony … and [China’s] human-rights record is the best in history.”

Mr. Cong also lashed out Mr. Trudeau, who on Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary by accusing China of resorting to “coercive diplomacy” in its crackdown in Hong Kong, human-rights abuses against Uyghurs and the arbitrary detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

“There is no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side,” he said. “The Hong Kong issue and the Xinjiang-related issue are not about the issue of human rights. They are purely about internal affairs of China, which brooks no interference from the outside.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan last week described Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, who were locked up days after Ottawa arrested a Chinese executive of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. on a U.S. extradition request, as victims of Chinese “hostage diplomacy.” Mr. Cong said on Thursday the cases are not connected, and that the two men are suspected of “engaging in activities which endangered our national security.”

Mr. Cong called for the immediate release of the Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou and praised former Canadian officials and diplomats from the Jean Chrétien era who have called for a prisoner exchange. The two Canadians were imprisoned in December, 2018, shortly after Ms. Meng was detained over allegations of bank fraud relating to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

More than 60 MPs and senators signed a joint statement on Thursday calling on the Prime Minister to create a “safe harbour program” for Hong Kong residents and offer them permanent residency. Canada has strong ties to Hong Kong, with more than half a million Canadians tracing their roots to the city.

Canadians of Hong Kong origin on Thursday urged Canada to do more.

“Hong Kong has been turned into a police state," Gloria Fung, president of Canada-Hong Kong Link, said at a news conference on Thursday. "Over 10,000 people have been arrested, the youngest of them 11 years old. There have been numerous disappearances and apparent killings made to look like suicide.

“Our Prime Minister has pledged to help protect human rights worldwide. However, earnest words of concern have not helped the people of Hong Kong as they face a worsening humanitarian crisis," she said. "Shamefully, Canada’s federal government has done little to help.”

Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, has criticized Mr. Trudeau for moving quickly to impose sanctions on officials in economically insignificant countries such as Belarus, but ignoring calls for sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials over human-rights abuses.

“We can only conclude our elected officials … are intimidated by the political and economic clout of China,” she said.

On Thursday, 17 civil-rights groups, including Democracy and Human Rights for China and Friends of Hong Kong Calgary, urged Canada to remove pandemic restrictions that prevent would-be refugees from flying here to seek asylum. The people recently granted asylum and the group awaiting approval arrived before the borders were closed in March.

They called on Canada to take special measures to enable activists to leave Hong Kong despite COVID-19 travel restrictions or confiscated travel documents.

Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, who is supporting these calls to action, described China as now the greatest threat to the international legal order.